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I am working on a website for a photography business in town and was asked to do something I'd never considered before. The company wants a basic webpage for it's "general" business -- myphotography.com, let's say -- and then a subdomain for each of their specialties: weddings.myphotography.com, portraits.myphotography.com, etc.

They specifically requested that Wordpress be used and want a different theme on each subdomain. What makes most sense to me with this setup is using multiple Wordpress installations, one for each subdomain, and interlink between them with the menus and trackbacks/pings.

The last thing I want is to negatively affect SEO with this. It seems like it should boost each individual subdomain/site. But at the same time, the root domain is the same, so it could actually drag the entire thing down.

What are your thoughts on this??

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3 Answers 3

The subdomains will not affect SEO, but my concern would be managing multiple WordPress installations.

What makes most sense to me with this setup is using multiple Wordpress installations, one for each subdomain, and interlink between them with the menus and trackbacks/pings.

WordPress 3.0 allows you to create a network of sites using 1 installation and 1 database. Which would solve the issue of managing multiple WordPress installations

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As far as Google is concerned there is no real difference between subdomains and subdirectories. So organizing their content this way won't have any impact on SEO for their pages.

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I agree - there's no advantage in using subdomains over subdirectories (eg using "tags" within a single WP installation). On the negative side, maintaining multiple WP installations takes time - you always need to keep all of them current to prevent getting exploited.. Personally, if I can avoid having to maintain a number of separate sites by concentrating everything into a single one, that's what I would try to do. –  John Mueller Nov 5 '10 at 12:27
    
They want completely different themes for each subdomain, as well as keeping all content pretty well segregated. They just want to maintain links between the sites, but each site should be considered it's own "business" ... –  Nathan Loding Nov 5 '10 at 21:35

In terms of SEO, maybe this quote from this SearchEnglineLand post may clarify that this approach may be suitable for the intent of marketing them as separate businesses.

So, in conclusion, if you’d like to build the equity of one web site or entity, I suggest using a subfolder. If you’d like to build an entire new entity with its own equity, launch a subdomain.

Read more: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/subdomains-or-subfolders-which-are-better-for-seo/6849/#ixzz14VL7nz7E

About maintenance issues using a WordPress subdomain multisite installation may reduce some of the maintenance overheads especially with updates for Wordpress Core and Plugins.

The client gets subdomains and different themes, ability to assign different content creators, normal admins for each 'business' site and as the Super Admin, you can do most backend maintenance once.

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